The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) strongly rejects recent calls for university fee hikes.
AMSA is deeply concerned by comments made last week by Professor Fred Hilmer, Vice Chancellor of the University of New South Wales, and this week’s Grattan Institute report that called for significant increases to student fees for courses, including medicine.
AMSA President Mr James Churchill said today that universities do need more funding, but stressed that this should come from the Federal Government, not students.
“Higher student fees could restrict access to degrees, including medicine, for prospective students and potentially create undue financial burdens for struggling Australian families,” Mr Churchill said.
“We do not want a system where access to a university education is based on the financial situation of individual families.
“It is unacceptable to consider a system whereby students would be forced to choose their university courses and careers based on the financial situation of their family.
“Additionally, excessive debt has the potential to drive medical graduates to work in higher earning specialties rather than making career decisions based on population health needs and inequities.
“It is critical that the Federal Government recognises that medicine is an essential public service and the Government needs to invest appropriately in medical education.
“The Grattan Institute Report is flawed because it proposes no increase in overall university funding, despite strong evidence from the Lomax-Smith Base Funding Review that funding in Australia fails to meet the real costs of higher education and lags well behind international standards,” he said.
The Lomax-Smith Base Funding Review identified medicine as among the most severely underfunded disciplines.
“Minister Evans’ rejection of suggestions for increases to university student funding this week is somewhat reassuring. However, the Government is yet to commit the resources necessary to correct the chronic underfunding and preserve the quality of medical courses,” Mr Churchill said.
AMSA calls upon the Federal Government to urgently correct the underfunding of the tertiary sector and continue to regulate and cap student fees.
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